69 million page views

The Word of God, vs. Human Reason, as the sustainer of reality

Reader comment on item: Conservatism's Hidden History
in response to reader comment: Aren't we all 'frogpondians' doomed to failure?

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Aug 25, 2018 at 07:56

Hi, Martin. I'm not sure what you are saying "yes" and "but" to. Concerning my conservative views, they are not dependent on my understanding of Who God is, or what He has said; they are based on on the assumption that WHETHER IT IS UNDERSTOOD OR NOT, God's word holds the universe together.

You said,

"Conservatives and liberals, I think, also share the assumption that man, by his capacity for reason, participates in divine reason."

I certainly to not think this way. "Divine reason" existed long before I did; and will continue after any memory of me has ceased. God does not need our help, in order to reason properly.

Concerning Poe, I had to look that one up:

"Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story, "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" (1841), in which he embedded elements of deep dislike for transcendentalism, calling its followers "Frogpondians" after the pond on Boston Common.[36] The narrator ridiculed their writings by calling them "metaphor-run" lapsing into "mysticism for mysticism's sake",[37] and called it a "disease.""
-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendentalism

I think it suffices to say, that Poe disliked and dismissed mysticism for mysticism's sake. I agree with that sentiment, though I confess that transcendentalism was never presented clearly enough to me, for me to have any idea what it was about. I hope that clears me of any "frogpondian" connection.

Concerning God's word, my Christian perspective is this:

Colossians 1:
[16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
[17] And he is before all things, AND BY HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST.

The "Him" in the last verse, according to my understanding is "God", used interchangeably with "The Father"; though I imagine theologically argumentative types would have it refer to Jesus. Paul's use of pronouns opens the door to this sort of contention; but I am certain that the Jewish readers here, if they indeed bothered to read the text, would agree that it is indeed God, not Jesus, by whom all things "consist".

People have come up with all sorts of ideas, over the ages, about (1) whether an all-sufficient Creator God exists, (2) about whether or not He/etc. is the "God" of the Bible, and (3) what part He/etc. has in maintaining existence as we know it. My views on these matters, as though you hadn't already guessed it, are (1) Yes, He/etc. exists, (2) Yes, He/etc. is the Biblical "God", and (3) He is actively involved in the continuance of existence as we know it. I said all that, just to be clear.

According to the Bible, everything that exists, as WE understand existence, came into being through the spoken word of God, viz,

B'reshit 1:
[1] "When God began to create heaven and earth— the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water— God SAID, "Let there be light"; and there was light."

The latest construct of modern science, to my understanding, is that existence as we know it (namely, "the Universe") began with a "Big Bang" singularity, which rapidly expanded up to a point at which its enormous gravitational attraction kept light from escaping. That point, in Biblical terms, coincided with God saying "Let there be light".

If the universe had continued to expand at its initial rate, matter would never have condensed to the form we are familiar with. Something "tweaked" the initial set of laws (i.e. "word") that revealed light, to slow things down. Science is unclear about what this "something" was, that seemed to alter the very laws of Physics. On my part, of course, I credit God's word -- not just a singular pronouncement, but a continuing speech. The Bible records parts of this continuing "word":

B'reshit 1:
[6] God SAID, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water."
God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so.
-- https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.1.1-2?lang=bi&aliyot=0

If you read on, you can see that this "separation" did not refer to the formation of the continents, but to the separation of the earth from other celestial bodies. In scientific terms, this is the coalescing of matter into planets, stars, etc.

I needn't discuss the creation events further. Suffice to say, that God's CONTINUING speaking of His word was required to form the Universe; and as Colossians 1 implies, this process of divine involvement with everyday existence continues.

Obviously, my point of view is not universally held in all details. What IS held by a consensus of conservatives, is the assumption that "God", an "Invisible Hand" or other ultimate power outside of and superior to human reason, sustains reality.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to The Word of God, vs. Human Reason, as the sustainer of reality by Michael S

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2022 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)